Posts Tagged: texas tax agent

Making an Impact

Making an Impact

The Opportunity: Storm Uri

At Wayfinder, one of our main goals is to make an impact for good in communities and for families. Back in February of 2021, an opportunity to do good presented itself in Texas with Storm Uri. Storm Uri hit Texas very hard and impacted millions of people. The freeze hit for almost seven days and it affected the electrical grid, so there were many people who did not have food, could not heat their homes, and could not even get gas for vehicles because the systems were down. 

Evaluating the Situation

When we heard about the situation, immediately our hearts broke. We called down to our properties in Texas asking if they were ok and if they needed anything. The regional director expressed that they really needed food. The H-E-B was almost completely out of food, save for a few remaining lunch meat packages. They were concerned that their tenants would not have enough food to get through the weekend. It was really scary. We sat there with that news and said, “Well, we can’t necessarily write a check. It’s not really going to help to just write a check for this one.”

Seizing the Opportunity

After some brainstorming, we called the regional director back and said, “Hey, if we got a truck and filled it with food and brought it, would that help you?” She broke down in tears, and she said, “I can’t believe you would be willing to help, that is amazing.” 

Taking the next step, we found out that we could rent a refrigerated truck. We then took it to Costco and Sam’s Club and asked if they could waive their limits on some of their products to help us, and they said, “Absolutely.” The staff at both places all jumped on board to help us. It was pretty amazing.

When we got the truck down to Texas, there were about 30 people waiting there for us to help us unload the truck. We then worked with our client and their team to unload the truck. They had boxes ready so that as we unloaded the truck, we began to make food kits that would get a family through the weekend.

Treating Every Property Like Our Own Home

The fingerprint of Wayfinder, what makes us unique, is that we treat every property as if it was our own. In this situation, if that was our own property, we absolutely would do anything we could to help. If we are looking for opportunities to do good in the world, they will come. All we have to do is be willing to say yes. 

At Wayfinder, it is our goal to always say yes to opportunities to do good.

Start Saving Now

The Importance of Local Expertise in Your Property Tax Agent

The Importance of Local Expertise in Your Property Tax Agent

Why Local Expertise Matters

One of the low points in my career was when I had a case in Kentucky. I had done everything I could to prepare for this case. I did my CoStar Comps and reviewed the property on Google Earth. I did everything I knew how to best prepare myself… all except for a site visit because I was stretched too thin at my former firm to be able to do that. There was no time to visit the property in person; I wasn’t able to dedicate more than a few minutes to this case. Little did I know, my lack of preparation was about to change everything.

The Game-Changer

I arrived in Kentucky, at my hearing, and went in to present my case. After I presented my case, the response from the board member was something I had never heard before. Much to my dismay, he said, “Boy, you’re not from around here. Because if you were, you would know that no one would ever compare that part of town to the one that you’re in right now.” And that was a game-changer for me.

If At First, You Don’t Succeed…

I thought that the properties looked similar in the aerial shots. I thought they looked similar on CoStar Sales, but my sales were low because they were in an area that didn’t warrant the same kind of sales as my subject. Well, needless to say, I walked out of there having lost my case. I felt dejected and determined that I would never feel that way again. Because of this experience, at Wayfinder, we visit every property we represent. We always know what we’re talking about in that market, because we… 

  • Visit the equity comps

  • Drive around the neighborhood

  • Visit our sales comps

  • Perform exhaustive market data research

  • Interview people and business in the area

The Wayfinder Guarantee

That is what makes Wayfinder different from other agencies. We guarantee to visit your property. We never give our agents more than they can handle, so that they always can fulfill that guarantee. In most agencies, an agent has hundreds or thousands of properties they represent every year. It’s a quantity game. At Wayfinder, ours is a quality game. We never have more than 100 properties per agent, because that allows us to give days, not hours, for every one of our properties. I learned my lesson in that wonderful hearing in Kentucky where I got slapped upside the head and realized there is a better way to do property tax appeals.

Are you ready to experience the difference local expertise can make for your property valuation? Connect with one of our agents today!

Start Saving Now

Wayfinder: Desire To Make An Impact

Wayfinder: Desire To Make An Impact

Why We Do What We Do

Wayfinder was founded from a desire in our hearts to do some good in the world through the process of appealing property values. When we began sharing this idea with others, the first reaction that we got was, “Yeah, that’s not gonna work. That’s a nice idea, but it is not really how life works.” But in spite of that advice, we still had to give it a try and ask the question: What could be possible if we had the position of making a difference and doing good through our work?

The Start Of Something New

So, we created Wayfinder. It was really exciting to see what we could do even in the first year. We were able to work with our clients, successfully reduce their property values, and take some of that money and give it back to charitable causes that our clients cared about. For the organization Feed My Starving Children, we were able to go as a team and help make food packets to give to children that are in dire straits all around the world. That was one of the first blessings of being able to start Wayfinder.

More Opportunities

One of the most surprising parts of this adventure has been discovering the many opportunities to go above and beyond when we intentionally seek to do good. I remember hearing from a company that received their tax bills and the boardroom conversation turned into, “Who are we going to let go in order to afford our property tax bill?” That was sadly the only option that they could think of to free up money to afford their tax bills. We fought for our client and got their property values reduced so significantly that their conversation changed to, “We can give our property managers and employees bonuses this year!”

Debunking Property Valuation Appeal Misconceptions

Sometimes property valuation appeals get a bad name. Some people say that by protesting your value, you end up hurting communities and families. The media will say that you are taking away from schools and hospitals. However, the reality is that you are not taking away from any of that when you appeal your value. You are simply helping the process be more fair and equitable. The government will collect all of the money that they need to collect for the schools and they’re gonna get it through property taxes which allows it to be paid fairly based on the value of your property. 

We take that a step further by asking our clients what causes they care about and donating to those causes. A lot of times they care about giving back locally because they know that a strong community is crucial to everyones success. For multifamily owners, they know they are protecting homes and they value the fact that they are helping some of the most vulnerable to have a place to live. Owners care about making that place the best it can be with amenities and a safe neighborhood. Together we are able to give back to your communities.

Making An Impact

These stories are just part of what makes going to work amazing. We are so thankful to be part of the process of making a positive impact in communities and on families and individuals. The impact is above and beyond what we could have ever imagined when we created this company. In the beginning, we were questioned if we could really make a difference. Years down the line, we now know that the work has improved communities and our ability to give. It is truly a result of the desire to make an impact. People may have mocked it at the beginning, but look at what we’ve been able to accomplish alongside our wonderful clients! 

At Wayfinder, we have seen so much good already… and we are just getting started. 

We are excited to see what comes next!

Start Saving Now

4 Reasons to Appeal

4 Reasons to Appeal

Appealing Your Proposed Value

Filing a protest of your noticed value is an important right the State of Texas grants its taxpayers. There are many reasons to appeal that affect many different parties. In this blog, I would like to share with you just 4 main reasons to appeal your Proposed Value.

Reason 1: Makes a Positive Impact on Communities

Reductions to appraised value and tax burdens are inappropriately judged as only helping property owners, but the truth is quite different. Multifamily property owners serve entire communities by providing safe housing and amenities for residents and their families. By reducing the tax burdens of a property, owners are able to improve/update units, provide extra services to tenants, and offer improved amenities. This is all made possible through lowering of tax expenses.

Reason 2: Holds Counties Accountable

Counties are responsible for setting the appraised value of all real estate in their jurisdictions. This is often a burdensome job with only a few appraisers in an office. Without taxpayers’ appealing values and providing appraisal districts with information not readily available to the general public, values could become inaccurate county-wide and with little other recourse for taxpayers. Appeals help keep appraisal districts’ values in line with current markets.

Reason 3: Keeps Costs Down

This is a rather simple reason to appeal that serves residents of a multifamily property. Property taxes make up one of the largest annual expenses for these types of properties. Often, when expenses increase or stay high, a portion of these expenses get passed onto the tenants. Keeping a property’s taxes low is a way to combat increased rents and provide more affordable rates for families.

Reason 4: Expansion

Finally, if a multifamily property owner can combat expenses within a market, there is an incentive to reinvest in that market. A lowered tax burden means an increase in the attractiveness of purchasing more properties or even building in a certain area. The increase in multifamily properties coming online in a market creates a boost in that area’s economy raising wages, creating new jobs, and providing vendors with more work.

Whatever reason speaks to you more as a multifamily property owner, I hope that you understand the importance of your appeal on not just your own bottom line but also your community.

See How Wayfinder Can Help

Schedule a Call

Important Terms to Know Before You File a Protest

Importance of Understanding Terms

Filing a protest of your noticed value is an important right the State of Texas grants its taxpayers. To combat over taxation, multifamily property owners should be knowledgeable of a few terms so that they can effectively navigate the appeals process.

Key Terms 

Notice of Appraised Value – This is the notice that the Central Appraisal District (CAD) sends out to property owners within its county stating the county’s opinion of value concerning a specific piece of property. This notice should provide taxpayers with a proposed assessed value, as well as a deadline to appeal this value. 

Assessed Value – In Texas, the assessed value of a multifamily property is equal to the market value of the property (or the price that the property would exchange hands in an open and free market through an arm’s length transaction). This value is significant because it is then multiplied by the jurisdiction’s tax rate to calculate the annual property taxes owed on the property. 

Notice of Protest – This is a document filed by the taxpayer to dispute the proposed assessed/market value of a property. This form may be found through the local CAD or the Texas Comptroller’s office.

Appraisal Review Board – This administrative board hears protests to proposed assessed/market value of the property. A taxpayer who filed a protest of their proposed value will go before this board and make their case if a settlement is not reached with the CAD. 

Exhausting Administrative Remedies – Texas law uses this phrase when describing how a property owner may file a lawsuit against a CAD concerning a property’s proposed value. The term ultimately means that most taxpayers must file a Notice of Protest with their CAD and conduct an ARB hearing before they may file a claim to the court concerning the matter.

Sales Approach to Value – A settled method of valuing property using sales of comparable property in the same market as the subject property.

Cost Approach to Value – A settled method of valuing property using costs associated with producing a similar or near-identical property in the same market as the subject property. 

Income Approach to Value – A settled method of valuing property using the income potential of a property. This is the favored approach when dealing with multifamily properties. 

Uniform and Equal Appraisal – This is a constitutional requirement for CAD’s to value similar property similarly. Properties that are valued unequally to comparable properties should be corrected.

These are but a few of the terms and buzzwords used in every valuation cycle, but hopefully, it is enough to help you with any of your future appeals. For any clarification or additional help, please talk to your property tax agent today.

See How Wayfinder Can Help

Schedule a Call

What are the Benefits of Filing to Litigation?

What are the Benefits of Filing to Litigation?

How can I get my Appeal to Litigation?

Before talking about the benefits of filing your property valuation appeal to court, it is important to understand what you must do first before you can file. In Texas, a taxpayer seeking to litigate their property value appeal must first exhaust their administrative remedies. This means that a taxpayer must first file a protest of noticed value with the valuing Central Appraisal District (CAD). Following an informal meeting with their CAD, the taxpayer must then have a hearing before an Appraisal Review Board (ARB). Once the taxpayer has this hearing, then they can file their protest to court.

Benefits of Filing to Court

The benefits of filing your value protest to court are simple, yet important. For starters, filing to court gives you another chance to have your case heard, or another bite at the apple. Never underestimate a do-over in life. Second, the court hears your case de novo, which means “from the beginning”. This is very helpful to taxpayers because they most likely lost or did not get the reduction they were seeking from the ARB if they are now filing to court. Without the burden of overcoming an ARB hearing, taxpayers can expect a fairer hearing. And finally, filing your case to court can give you an opportunity to better prepare your case and give you the time needed to present it. In an ARB hearing, you often only have 15 minutes to present all your evidence.

That is not a lot of time if there are complex factors you wish to present. In litigation, you have plenty of time to progress and share these issues with both the court and the CAD.

Ultimately, filing to court can offer property owners another chance at relief and a fair valuation. However, taxpayers need to be smart about when to take their protest this extra step. Litigation can be expensive, time-consuming, and burdensome. Suing the CAD should only be a last effort when you not only fully believe in your case, but know the outcome would significantly impact your value.

For any help or guidance in dealing with your protests, please feel free to contact our team today.

See How Wayfinder Can Help

Schedule a Call

Obsolescence In Real Property – How Can It Affect My Value?

Obsolescence in Real Property:

How Can It Affect My Value?

What is Obsolescence?

Obsolescence is defined as “the process of becoming obsolete or outdated and no longer used.” Obsolescence can impact a multifamily property in many ways to lower the property’s value. Both owners and appraisers should be aware of any potential obsolescence at play when evaluating a property’s market value.

Types of Obsolescence

There are three main types of obsolescence that can play a role in a multifamily property’s value: 1) Functional, 2) Economic, and 3) Physical.

Functional Obsolescence 

Functional obsolescence deals with the function of the property and how, generally over time, the property’s original function is not as useful. For example, consider an older building constructed without elevators at a time before modern elevators were common. When the building was new this would have been perfectly normal. However, if that same building still existed today, it would have functional obsolescence because we expect elevators in apartment buildings with 3+ floors.

Economic Obsolescence 

Economic obsolescence is often the most frustrating for an owner because it is always an external force impacting the property outside of that owner’s control. A great, and timely, example of this type of obsolescence is COVID-19 and the impact it had on our economy. Many businesses had to either shut down or suspend activities causing financial hardship on many families. With little cash coming in during the peak pandemic months, families often could not pay their full (or any) rent owed to multifamily property owners. This external impact on the income a property could generate is a textbook example of economic obsolescence.

Physical Obsolescence 

Physical obsolescence is probably the most easily avoidable of the three types of obsolescence. Physical obsolescence is often brought on due to deferred maintenance that causes damage or accelerated deterioration of an asset. A good example of this would be not replacing a roof in a timely fashion, and then having extensive water damage throughout the property years later that would require extensive work to fix. This physical obsolescence lowers the value of the property.

While obsolescence is not always easy to spot, both property owners and the appraiser should be diligent in looking for its impact on a property’s market value.

See How Wayfinder Can Help

Schedule a Call

Can I Appeal My Texas Property On My Own?

Can I Appeal my Texas Property on My Own?

You Absolutely Can, But What Are the Pros and Cons?

Texas Believes in Property Rights

Texas believes in property owners’ rights and has set up its system to allow property owners to appeal their own properties. This means you can absolutely appeal on your own. Doing it yourself means you will need to prepare your evidence and be ready to present it to the Central Appraisal District or the Appraisal Review Board. If you are not satisfied with the results at those levels, you can hire an attorney to pursue more in litigation. If your property is small enough, you may even be able to represent yourself in arbitration rather than filing in court and hiring an attorney.

Pros and Cons to Doing It Yourself

Things to consider when deciding to appeal your own property valuations.

Pros

  • You don’t have to pay anyone based on your tax savings
  • You know everything that is happening and you don’t need to rely on someone for an update
  • You care deeply about your property
  • You know the story about what is happening in your market

Cons

  • You are alone in the process and it isn’t your full-time focus
  • Limited or no access to valuations tools that require costly subscriptions
  • Limited market data revolving only around your property
  • Limited time and a need to work on other responsibilities
  • Frustration dealing with slow processes
  • Researching and understanding the nuances of the property tax law.

Hiring an Expert can Ease Your Burden

Appealing on your own has its benefits, but in many cases, the frustration and time spent are not worth the reward. In most cases, it is better to reach out and ask an expert for help. They are able to focus their time on your case and help you achieve great results. The results far outweigh the costs for their services. 

If you have questions or would like to see what an expert could do for you, the specialists at Wayfinder Tax Relief are ready to help

How Does the Appeal Process Work?

How Does the Appeal Process Work?

Notice of Value: The Start of an Appeal

In Texas, property owners are issued annually a Notice of Value from the Central Appraisal District (CAD) where their property is located. These notices of value are the CAD’s determination of a property’s market value and will influence a property’s tax liability in the coming year. Taxpayers have the option to appeal this value if they believe it to be too high. To do this, taxpayers or agents must fill out Form 50-132 from the Comptroller’s Office and file it with the CAD that issued the Notice of Value before the indicated deadline. 

Informal Meetings and Appraisal Review Board Hearings

Following a successful filing of an appeal, the taxpayer is then able to meet informally with the CAD and attempt to reach a settlement. Reach out to your local CAD if you have filed a protest and ask for a time to meet informally. Most cases settle at this informal stage. If a settlement cannot be agreed upon with the CAD informally, the taxpayer and the CAD will then go before an Appraisal Review Board (ARB) for a hearing on the dispute. Both sides will present their case in a 15-minute hearing, and the Board will issue a decision.

Post ARB Hearing Options

Following an ARB hearing, taxpayers have yet another option to seek tax relief. If a taxpayer is not satisfied with their property’s value after an ARB hearing, the taxpayer may file a lawsuit against the CAD in court. However, it is important to note, litigation is only available to those that have “exhausted their administrative remedies” before filing to court. This means that a taxpayer can only file a lawsuit concerning their noticed value if they have filed an appeal and had an ARB hearing as stated above. Of important note, certain properties also qualify for arbitration with the CAD. This can be quicker and cheaper than litigation but requires certain, specific factors exist before taxpayers may seek relief in this manner. Please consult a Texas property tax expert in determining if your property qualifies for arbitration.

This process happens every year and many property owners have little understanding of this process and their rights. If you are a multifamily property owner in Texas, please reach out to one of our specialists so that we can help navigate you through this process and get you the tax relief you need.

See How Wayfinder Can Help

Schedule a Call

How Can I Prepare For a Site Visit?

How can I Prepare for a Site Visit?

The Importance of Site Visits

It is truly impossible to overestimate the importance of site visits. For a tax agent to adequately represent a property, they need to have firsthand extensive knowledge of the asset. Without this knowledge, a property owner can never receive top-tier representation. As a property owner, there are a few preparations you should make before your site visit with your tax agent.

Step 1: Inform Your Staff of the Visit

For a site visit to go smoothly and effectively, the staff at the property needs to be aware of the tax agent’s visit. Moreover, the staff responsible for meeting with the agent must be knowledgeable and completely honest. A good agent asks hard questions for managers/owners to answer, and they need truthful responses. If the property is slipping off its foundation, the agent needs to know. If the property has plumbing issues every other day that require water to be shut off to the property, the agent needs to know. If the property has extensive water damage from leaky roofs, the agent needs to know! Your agent needs to know all the good and bad with your property so they can adequately fight for a fair valuation.

Step 2: Provide Financial Information

Next, be sure to prepare and provide your agent with the profit and loss statement for the property as well as unit statistics/rent rolls. As multifamily properties are income-producing, the ability of a property to produce income plays a significant part in its valuation.

Step 3: Be Prepared to Show a Vacant Room

So they can see what a unit looks like, be prepared to take your agent to a vacant unit. A good agent will want to examine the condition of the unit, its flooring material, countertops, appliances, and everything in between. All this information can play a crucial role in valuing your property. Note, however, that you need to show your agent a unit that is representative of the majority of the other units at the property. For example, if 90% of the units at the property have granite countertops, do not show your agent the unit with a Formica countertop.

And that’s it. Preparing for your site visit is quite simple and should make your visit that much quicker/effective. By following these simple steps to prepare for your visit with your agent, you are setting your appeal up for success.

See How Wayfinder Can Help

Schedule a Call

Arrow Icon